Leadership Lessons from Leadership Expert John C. Maxwell

“Leadership is a verb not a noun.” John C. Maxwell

John Maxwell is a leadership guru who has written numerous New York Times best-selling books on the topics of leadership and personal development. For well over four decades, he has written on the topic of leadership in addition to coaching leaders and consulting with companies and organizations. I recently had the opportunity to meet John Maxwell in person and other outstanding Thought Leaders at the Change Leadership Conference in Toronto. Maxwell delivered a humorous and enlightening keynote on leadership in today’s environment.

While there were numerous insights I gleaned from his talk, one of the key insights that stood out right from the start is that according to Maxwell, “leadership is a verb not a noun.” What this means is that leadership is the act of doing, it’s not a static entity. My opinion is there are people who are great managers (they know the functional and technical aspects of their job) yet they need to grow into being a leader. Maxwell described leadership as a process, which I understood to mean that over time it is possible to grow into a high level of leadership capacity. I think for many of us this is a relief to know as the term “leaders are born and not made,” is often used when describing an outstanding leader. Describing leadership as a process means that no matter where someone is at in their leadership journey, developing the skills to be an excellent leader can be developed with the right mentoring, coaching and tools.

A good metaphor that I liked that Maxwell used was the concept of the “leadership lid.” An organization and its employee or team members can only develop or grow as high as the leadership lid of its leaders. For example, say there was a scale of one to five and the top leader was operating at a level one. The employees and the organization as a whole would not be able to move past the level one leadership lid. If employees are capable of moving past level one, they will not stay in that organization over the long term because they will feel they are stagnating in their roles. Also, the organization as a whole will suffer and stagnant. If the top leader or leadership team is operating at a high level, everyone in the organization benefits and is elevated to that level, including the organization as a whole.

The majority of Maxwell’s presentation focused on the five levels of leadership described in his book, The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential. In his talk and in the book, he describes each of the levels of leadership. Level five leadership is the highest a leader can aspire to in their leadership journey. For more specific info about the various levels of leadership, read the book. In a nutshell, here is what I took away from his talk about the five levels of leadership.

Level One Leaders
Level one leaders have authority by virtue of their position and title. People follow these leaders because of their title and it takes minimal effort to convince people to follow level one leaders. In other words, people follow directions because their leader is the boss. If you are an employee and you want to stay employed, following the directions of your boss keeps you employed. Unfortunately, level one leadership (i.e. leadership by title) is the level of leadership that prevails in many companies and organizations. The leaders who have the authority to lead are not necessarily the most visionary leaders in an organization. Sometimes through tenure or seniority, some people have the authority to lead simply because of their title and position, not necessarily because they are a good leader.

Level Two Leaders
Level two leaders start to build relationships. According to Maxwell, there are various questions that followers at this level ask of their leaders. These questions can include: 1) do they like me? 2) can you help me and 3) can I trust you? In other words, as my leader will you manipulate me or help to motivate me to achieve goals? Leaders who start to gain the trust of their followers beyond their title, start to build trust in their followers and enhance their relationships. Level two leaders listen and ask questions. Their followers see that these leaders are open to building relationships. These leaders listen, learn and lead.

Level Three Leaders
Level three leaders are leaders who start to have the moral authority to lead. In other words, people don’t follow level three leaders just because of their title and position. They follow these leaders because they have been successful and they have a track record of successful leadership. Level three leaders are now teaching others what they know and are sharing their knowledge with their followers.

Level Four Leaders
Level four leaders start to gain momentum when it comes to leadership. Level four leaders start to really empower their followers. These leaders gain momentum because they have built upon the other levels of leadership. At this level, leaders have the formal title and position. As leaders, they are listening to their followers and incorporating the learnings into their leadership style. Level four leaders have a successful track record of leading others through their moral authority of listening and learning. And they also share their knowledge to empower others. Level four leaders want to equip and empower their followers so that their followers can start to be leaders in their own right.

Level Five Leaders
Level five leadership is the pinnacle of the leadership levels. Level five leaders have successfully gone through the various levels of leadership. People follow them because of who they are. They lead by example. Level five leaders want their followers to become successful, independent leaders who will empower other people. In other words, according to Maxwell, the person you equipped is equipping others. In the John Maxwell organization, they only invest in people who invest in others.

I thought the five levels of leadership scale is an excellent barometer to test where people are at in terms of their leadership journey, style and impact.

Another key point that really stood out for me from John Maxwell’s talk was his perspective on consistency. Maxwell revealed that he has been asked numerous times over the years, what is the key to his success. According to him, the key determinant of his success was consistency over 45 plus years of doing his leadership work. For me, it was a brilliant insight when he said, “Consistency Compounds.” Think about some of the less than stellar results you may have achieved or not achieved in your life. What were some the contributing factors? I’m sure lack of consistency played a factor in some shape or form. Let me leave you some questions to ask yourself to help you gain insight on your success journey.

1.If leadership can be described as a process. What steps are you taking to enhance your leadership skills to assist the process?
2.Where are you in terms of the five levels of leadership and how can you improve?
3.What would happen to your life if you made consistency a dominant factor? Stay tuned in the next few weeks. I will be writing a major blog post on the topic of consistency!

I always love hearing from my readers, share your thoughts on any of the above.

7 Tips to Have an Effective Mentoring Relationship

Being a mentor is a very rewarding experience when you help someone (the mentee) develop or enhance their skills in a specific area. Having been a mentor (and coach) to numerous people throughout my life, I can attest first hand to the happiness that you feel when you contribute to someone’s personal growth and development. Coaching is a different type of relationship and in a future post, I will discuss the difference between mentoring and coaching. When entering into a mentoring relationship you should have clear expectations whether you are the mentor or the mentee. Here are 7 tips to help ensure that you have a successful mentoring relationship. They are:

1. Before entering into a mentoring relationship, perform a self-assessment in terms of your individual strengths and weaknesses in order to help you maximize the relationship.

2. If you are the mentee, determine your individual goals and objectives before beginning to formally meet with your mentor.

3. Determine how much time you can commit to the mentoring relationship i.e. three face to face meetings in a six month period and three phone calls. Stick to that schedule.

4. When meetings are scheduled, come prepared with specific agenda items to discuss and keep notes of what transpired during the meeting. Keeping notes can help you to track your progress towards your goals.

5. At each meeting, review the progress/status of your goals that you initially established if you are the mentee to determine how much progress you’ve made. Keeping track helps you to determine what further actions are required.

6. Throughout the mentoring relationship keep a “success journal.” Keep track of the success that you are making as you progress towards your goals.

7. At the end of the mentorship period, review your overall progress towards the goals that you set at the beginning of the relationship. Once the formal mentoring relationship ends, ideally both the mentor and the mentee should give each other feedback. By delivering feedback to each other, you can determine the overall success of goals achieved. In recognition of both of your efforts celebrate the achievement of the goals and the success that you both have achieved.

It is important to have clearly defined goals at the beginning of a mentoring relationship, work on achieving those goals and chart progress towards those goals. Being a mentor can be a very satisfying way that you contribute to someone’s life.

Please comment and share if you received value from these useful tips.

Six Tips To Help You When You Are a Panelist

Recently, I was invited to be part of a panel on women and entrepreneurship at an entrepreneurship expo at the Ontario Science Centre. I was part of a panel that included a moderator and two other panelists. The moderator was Katherine Roos, Executive Director – Imagination Catalyst at OCAD University. The two panelists were: Dr. Diana Kraskouskaya, CEO of Dalriada Therapeutics and Chakameh Shafii, CEO and Co-Founder of TranQool. It was a wonderful experience. The moderator asked questions to the panelists for about 40 minutes. Afterwards, there was a question and answer period with audience members.

If you have the opportunity to participate as part of a panel, I highly recommend it. Here are six tips that can help you navigate the opportunity when you are invited to be a panelist. They are:

1. Panel Fit. Before you accept the invitation to be part of a panel, determine if it’s a good fit for you. There are a variety of reasons why you could be asked to be on a panel. You could be invited based on: your expertise, your professional experience, your education, your network, or your profile and platform. Before you accept the invitation, decide if being a panelist is a good fit for you. Take into consideration your professional experience and the value that you would add to the panel. When I accepted the invitation to participate, I decided that it was a good fit. The other two panelists were CEOs and based on my experience as a “solopreneur” in the coaching and consulting areas, I could give a unique perspective. Being on the panel was also in alignment with my commitment to women’s issues, including economic empowerment.

2. Conduct Your Research. In order to prepare properly, conduct research into the following: the organization hosting the panel, the topic under consideration, the moderator and the other panelists. Doing your research in advance will help you to speak credibly to the topic that will be discussed. I conducted research into all the above and it served me well on the panel.

3. Questions from the Moderator. If possible try to obtain some examples of the questions that the moderator might ask in advance of the panel and prepare accordingly. If you are unable to obtain some of the questions in advance, prepare a few sample questions and practice with them. I anticipated what some of the questions might be and some of those questions were asked.

4. Share Personal Stories. You were asked to be part of a panel because of your expertise and professional background. The audience members want to learn about your journey. Be prepared to share relevant, personal stories that highlight your area of expertise. One area where I got personal was when the moderator asked me who my mentor was. I mentioned my mother who taught me the tenacity, courage, perseverance, empathy and compassion that I need to succeed in business and in life.

5. Questions from the Audience. Similar to preparing for the moderator’s questions, anticipate some questions that might come from the audience. When the questions are asked, answer to the best of your ability. I brainstormed a few potential questions in advance and some of them were asked by audience members.

6. Connect with Your Host. Before the date of the panel, ensure that you have communicated with your host well in advance. Have at least one phone call with your host in addition to email communication to determine the event expectations and the venue location/time. If he or she doesn’t do so automatically, ask to be connected with the panel moderator to touch base. On the date of the event, arrive early, connect with the host and make sure that you know where the panel meeting room location is. After the event, thank the host for the wonderful opportunity.

While you may not have participated on a panel (yet), these tips will help you navigate that opportunity smoothly. When opportunity knocks, preparation will enable you to open the door with full confidence!

Powerful Lessons from the Legacy of Dr. Wayne Dyer

The fourth year anniversary occurred this past August of the passing of Dr. Wayne Dyer at the age of 75. As a prolific author, teacher, and lecturer, Dr. Dyer’s work positively affected millions of people around the globe. His body of work has impacted me throughout my life. He was compassionate, kind and truly wanted people to succeed and evolve our consciousness so that every human on the planet could thrive.

At the Hay House Conference, I attended in May, a special tribute was dedicated to Wayne Dyer, as he was a big part of the Hay House family. The tribute showcased his teachings that reflected his philosophy of life. From the tribute, I’m sharing with you several key lessons from his work with some of my personal reflections. They are:

1. Want for others what I want for myself. If you want peace, happiness, wealth, good health and success for yourself, wish those things for others. Having positive vibes and wishing blessings on other people can have a powerful effect on you and how you show up in the world.

2. Think from the end. Be determined to live a beautiful and generous life, a life in alignment with your spiritual core. Have a vision for your life and how you want to serve. Work on bringing your vision to reality by breaking down your goals into manageable parts to make your dreams and vision unfold.

3. Be an appreciator. Instead of examining what you don’t have, appreciate all the you DO have. When you examine what you do have, you realize that you have been blessed with much in this life.

4. Stay in rapport with Source Energy. As God is our creator, staying in alignment with the energy of love, gratitude and peace helps us navigate challenges and keep focused on our priorities.

6. Contemplate myself with conditions that I wish to have. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have focus on the things that you want to bring into your life. Visualize, meditate and contemplate those things daily.

7. Be skilled in the Art of Allowing. You are a gift. Stop fighting and resisting who you are. Own your power and your brilliance. Allow God to come in and support you in all that you do.

8. Practice humility. Each of us is doing the best that we can at any given time. No matter how high you rise in life, practice humility. Absolutely be proud of who you are and your talents. At the same time, remember that we all live on borrowed time and be kind to each other.

9. Be in a constant state of gratitude. Does anything else need to be said? The fact that we are alive and can experience life is a blessing. Let the gratitude flow.

10. Stay away from judgment. While easier said than done, as much as possible learning to be as non-judgemental as we can, is well worth the effort. You will have greater peace of mind to take action on the priorities that are important to you.

11. Play the Match Game. Match with what you want in this life not with what you don’t want. If you are a positive person and there are negative people or influences in your life, minimize or eliminate your time spent with them.

12. Meditate. Meditation is a powerful tool to connect with God. Cultivating a daily practice can help you develop inner peace.

In addition, here are a few of my other favourite sayings from him. They are:

Be independent of the good opinions of others. You don’t have to justify how you lead your life as long as you are not hurting anyone. In other words, as Dr. Dyer would say “Don’t complain and don’t explain.” How you live your life is no one else’s business.

On your mind place a “Do Not Disturb Sign.” This is another one of my favourites. Do not allow anything to enter your mind that is not for your higher good. Be selective of the thoughts that enter your mind and ensure that they are positive to help you lead the best possible life.

Thoughts are energy. How you think is very important. Ensure that you are cultivating positive thoughts both to yourself and other people. The type of thoughts you develop will be the basis on which you take action. Therefore, if you think negative, self-defeating thoughts it will be challenging to take positive action. Learn to develop loving, peaceful, forgiving and grateful thoughts and see how your life unfolds.

Learn to go from Pissed to Blissed! As humans we feel the full gamut of emotions from love to fear and everything in between. Learning to take control of our emotions can help us with daily living. The way that we do that is through cultivating a practice where we can connect with the Divine and allow space to feel our emotions. You can do this through meditation, prayer, walking in nature or anything that helps you to live a more peaceful and blissful life.

At a conference in Toronto a few years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Dyer. It was a life changing moment. Out of all of his lessons, the most important that I will always take away from him is to nurture my connection with my Eternal Source i.e. God. Nurturing that connection to the Divine Source can help you to stay connected to the things that are most important to you and that which you desire to bring forth in your life.

A quote that I love that Dr. Dyer would often use from Einstein is: “Do I live in a friendly or a hostile universe.” Think about that question for a moment for yourself. The way that you answer the question reveals your outlook on life and your perspective really can determine your outcomes in life.

Dr. Dyer’s powerful lessons and beautiful legacy live on through the millions of lives he touched through his books, lectures, videos, meditations and various programs. We are truly blessed to have had a spiritual teacher like him. If you have not been exposed to his work yet, I highly recommend, The Power of Intention to start with or his meditation book called: Getting in the Gap.

Speed Reading Foundation Course

Too much to read? Not enough time? I think that all of us at one time or another have become overwhelmed by the amount of reading that we have to do. Reading is one of my passions and something that I enjoy immensely on a daily basis. I love to read fiction books and literature for the sheer joy of good storytelling. For professional reasons, like many of you, I must keep up with the latest developments in my profession. Reading for business and for professional reasons is a necessity is today’s highly competitive environment. The ability to read effectively for both comprehension and for speed is a highly valuable skill. Throughout the years, I’ve taken several speed reading fundamental courses that have helped me to keep up with my vast amount of personal and professional reading. I believe a speed reading course can help you to increase your productivity also.

The Speed Reading Foundation Course by Iris Reading can help you to increase your overall reading speed and comprehension. This course will help you increase your reading speed so that you can read more in less time. You’ll also learn practical strategies to enhance your comprehension so you can remember more of what you read. This course is ideal for students, professionals and lifelong learners.

Speed Reading Foundation Course

To sign up for the speed reading course click here:

Speed Reading Foundation Course (Online)

Advanced Comprehension and Memory Course

Do you have trouble remembering what you read? The Advanced Comprehension and Memory Course will help you improve these important capabilities. This online course is conducted by Iris Reading. This course will help you improve your memory by teaching you useful strategies to comprehend your reading, understand it better and remember it longer. Whether you’re trying to remember what you just read, passwords, birthdays, or to-do’s, this course will provide you with the best available strategies for memory improvement.

Advanced Comprehension & Memory Course

To sign up for the course, you can register here:

Advanced Comprehension & Memory Course (Online)

Interview on The Nikki Clarke Show

On August 17th, I am being interviewed by the amazing Nikki Clarke on the Nikki Clarke Show. I’m sure we’ll discuss some exciting topics like issues of the day, coaching, public speaking, volunteerism, women’s empowerment and the list could go on! The Nikki Clarke Network was founded by Nikki Clarke in May 2014. The network is a 24 hour inspirational online tv network. The network offers unique programming with informative and entertaining segments in the areas of business, lifestyle, health, wellness, beauty, music and food among many topics.
The show also airs on Rogers Channels 672/673 and Bell Fibe Channels 559/560.

The interview is going to be awesome!

Exciting Interview on the Nikki Clarke Show!

I was interviewed by the amazing Nikki Clarke for the Nikki Clarke Network on June 12th. Our engaging interview discussed everything from coaching to how to overcome blocks to success and how people can step into their authentic power as leaders and as speakers. The first part of our interview will be broadcast through her online radio station.

The Nikki Clarke Network was founded by Nikki Clarke in May 2014. The network is a 24 hour inspirational online tv network. The network offers unique programming with informative and entertaining segments in the areas of business, lifestyle, health, wellness, beauty, music and food among many topics.

The Nikki Clarke Show is also broadcast on two television networks: Rogers and Bell Fibe. Stay tuned for Part 2 of my interview!

Lessons in Abundance from Dr. John Demartini

One year ago, I had the pleasure of attending a conference where Dr. John Demartini was one of the keynote speakers. Dr. Demartini is an international best selling author, educator and public speaker focusing on high performance in human behaviour. He helps people develop the mindset and behaviours required to create success. Dr. Demartini started from incredibly humble circumstances and has achieved great success in his life. Recently, I was reflecting on his talk and here are three keys lessons that I am sharing with you. They are:

Our Values Determine Our Financial Destiny

According to Dr. Demartini there are certain characteristics and mindset that must be developed in order to build wealth. One of the main ones is that you must know your values. Your values determine what goals you go after in life. Dr. Demartini posits that our highest values filter i.e. determine our reality. In other words, you will always find the time and the money for things that you value most. For example, if you say that you value health the most, yet you live a sedentary lifestyle and drink and smoke like there is no tomorrow, chances are being healthy is not one of your highest values. More likely you value pleasure and immediate gratification above a healthy lifestyle. People need to look at what they value without judgment. Getting real with what we value and realizing if our lives demonstrate the opposite of what we value, that realization could be a turning point to make change in our lives. Knowing your values is important in goal setting because if a goal is not in alignment with your values, then there is a high probability you won’t achieve it. A big part of goal achievement is setting goals in alignment with our highest values which is important when it comes to building wealth.

Guilt and Shame Prevent People From Receiving Abundance

In my experience, people who are wealthy or affluent are comfortable with making and receiving money. Money is simply a tool that helps them achieve their goals in life. A key part of building wealth is by being receptive to abundance in your life. In other words, do you feel worthy to receive abundance in all its forms? Abundance can take the form of love, good health, wealth, pleasure, friendship and the list could on. People are often comfortable with some forms of abundance but deep down they don’t feel worthy to receive others. You are worthy because you were created by the Divine. If you feel unworthy you will self sabotage or not take the action required to achieve your goals. According to Dr. Demartini you be must be willing to move past, liberate and process any guilt or shame over incidents in your life that have prevent you from receiving abundance. Anything that you feel shame or guilt about find a way to process it in a compassionate and forgiving manner. One of the initial ways that you can start processing these feelings is by writing them down in a journal or diary. You could also speak to a trusted family member, friend or if need be a therapist to help you move forward. Remember that nothing in life is wasted. Through every experience you have been made stronger, more courageous and resilient! For whatever may have occurred in your life learn to love, forgive and have compassion for yourself.

Make a Contribution by Serving Others

While it’s amazing to be able to use or express your gifs, ensure that you’re using them to help others. Be willing to make a contribution to the world, don’t just take up space. Ask yourself on a regular basis, Wayne Dyer’s famous question, “How Can I Serve?” After all, you are as Dr. Demartini would say, “a citizen of the world.” You have the potential to impact people globally not just where you were born and grew up. Sometimes people don’t know how to contribute and the first step is looking at your gifts and figuring out how to help other others. Start generating ideas in order to make an impact. At the conference, Dr. Demartini asked the attendees to do an exercise where they generated ideas to use their gifts to build wealth and help others. He encouraged us to make the following lists. They are:

• List 200 ways that you can benefit by serving the most numbers of people.
• List 200 ways to invest.
• List 200 ways to accumulate a vast fortune.
• List 200 ways to leave a legacy.

Once you have these lists compiled go through them and pick the ones where you feel you can set goals and make the most impact. You will be surprised at how brilliant and creative you are when you generate your lists!

The overall lesson that I took from Dr. Demartini’s keynote speech is that we are here to serve and make an impact. We can let shame, guilt, excuses, unworthiness, failure, family, society among a myriad of reasons prevent us from fulfilling our purpose and destiny. Or we can make the courageous decision to: live our values, deal with our feelings compassionately and use our gifts to fulfill our purpose while helping others. Now that is an abundant life indeed!

Three Ways to Play a Bigger Game in Life!

Rick Tamlyn is an international coach, speaker and author of Play Your Bigger Game. In the book and in his speeches and workshops, he helps people live more meaningful and purposeful lives by elevating the way they play their game. The game being a metaphor for life. I attended one of his introductory workshops and here are some key takeaways that I learned about how to play a bigger game in life. They are:

1. Be laser focused when it comes to your priorities. The world was here before you or I were born and there is a good chance it will be here long after we have departed the mortal coil. Meaning that if you set out with the goal to change the world, you’re going to be frustrated. With all the issues in the world it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Does that mean that you don’t fight the good fight for causes you believe in or against injustices that exist in the world. Of course not. You continue to advocate for issues that you believe in and rail against injustices. To deal with the overwhelm when you want to make a difference, pick an area or areas where you can make the largest impact for the most amount of people and focus in on those areas. Each human being only has so much time and energy and being laser focused helps you to achieve your highest priorities. Being laser focused on your priorities means that you know how you want to contribute and the type of impact or legacy that you want to leave. Look at how you can positively impact your sphere of influence with the causes you believe in. Sometimes you don’t need to go far, you can start with your family, your work or your neighbourhood.

2. Have a vision and be committed to it. Often in life people lack the confidence to start working on a goal or project. They believe they can’t finish a project or reach a goal, so they don’t bother starting. Even if you don’t have everything figured out when starting out on a goal, your level of commitment can help you achieve that goal. Rick Tamlyn says that “the antidote to lack of confidence is being committed.” When you know your values and have a vision for your life, it is easier to commit to a goal even if all the details aren’t worked out. For example, if getting healthy was a matter of life or death for you, your commitment to being healthy and living would make you figure out the details. Knowing your values and having a vision for your life can help you with being committed to a goal. When you have a life vision , it’s very easy to commit to priorities that fit within that vision and say no to things that don’t.

3. Play (live) outside of your comfort zone. Rick Tamlyn says that, “Playing a bigger game will design who I become.” If you are continuously “playing it safe” and not learning or growing, you will find your life becoming stagnant. When you don’t set new goals or aim for new achievements, it’s challenging for new opportunities, people and things to come into your life. Stepping outside of your comfort zone may mean setting a new vision for your life where you have to let go of people, places, things as well as things about yourself that don’t fit into your new life vision. We are creative beings. At any time we can choose who we are and who we want to be. We are not limited by our past, family, or societal programming and conditioning. While it does take work to bring your vision or goals to fruition, it is worth the time and effort required. When you learn to play outside your comfort zone while using your gifts and talents to serve others, life is enjoyable and you learn to live your life purpose. So have fun, take those calculated risks, learn something new, reach out to someone and love with an open heart.

Here’s to playing Your Bigger Game!